Pruritus in Elderly Patients—Eruptions of Senescence
Geriatric patients are frequently afflicted by pruritic dermatoses. Most pruritic elderly patients present with a skin eruption. The high prevalence of pruritic inflammatory skin disorders in elderly patients is a consequence of three physiological changes that occur with aging: (1) the epidermal barrier repair is diminished; (2) the immune systems of elderly patients are activated and have defective Th1 function along with enhanced Th2 function (immunosenescense); and (3) neurodegenerative disorders may lead to pruritus by their central or peripheral effects. These consequences of aging may all afflict the same patient, explaining why elderly people often have multiple overlapping skin conditions. The following article outlines the pathogenesis of the most common forms of pruritic skin disease in elderly patients and the hallmarks that allow the dermatologist to establish an accurate diagnosis and also suggests a management strategy for each common type of pruritic skin disease in the elderly patient.
Semin Cutan Med Surg 30:113-117 © 2011 Published by Elsevier Inc.